Yes, it was just so terribly, terribly nice. An afternoon of spring warmth and sunshine at Wakehurst Place. Wakehurst is part of Kew Gardens. It holds an incredible seed bank for countless genii of the world’s plants. It also has many varieties on display around its gardens.
At this time of year, the whole place is alive with new growth. As we went along its gently sloping paths, my wife, Rose and I took in some heady scents and aromas. For me, the man of the match was the walled garden. For Rose perhaps it was the ham sandwich, consumed with a marked degree of avarice. Even the journey to and from Wakehurst is a pleasant affair; traversing the Ashdown Forest and twisting through the leafy lanes of West Sussex. Rose sat in the back humming away. Jo has discovered a real gem of a ruse for our daughter in the car. It’s called Walk the Moon’s Talking is Hard. A fair album.
There’s something really exciting about spring and it was encapsulated in today’s trip. There are two things which really establish Wakehurst Place as one of my favourite destinations; I could borrow a mobility scooter and there is an abundance of toilets. It is hard for me to deviate from further eulogies involving a plethora of superlatives but I feel I must try.
I wondered about the other people there. The were all polite, considerate and friendly. I saw one or two herberts strutting about with their coffee cups trying to look familiar and in tune with nature but it was no big deal. There were also some yummy mummies around lecturing their tiny ones about the life of the seed but it can only be expected. There was nothing offensive or objectionable about them and if that is how they are I have no problem at all.
But the fact is, it’s just so middle class. I thought about how many of those children would be allowed out to go and play football with their mates in the street or on a bit of scrub land or on a car park. There are plenty of children I have had the pleasure of teaching who would have loved an opportunity to spend a couple of hours wandering aimlessly in this haven of beauty and tranquillity. I doubt if they ever will have a chance. They might not ever think about it. And that’s a key point. They might never ever think about it.
You could argue that it may not appeal to them Maybe they want to spend all their time hanging around a shopping centre, the local park, the street corner or a noisy household with their X boxes avoiding sunlight and all human contact. I think it would be a shame for any child to miss out on a good breadth of experiences. What stops people? Now I could look down my nose and think that certain levels on the socio-economic ladder would choke at the idea of paying to go to a park; a very nice park but a park all the same. No,they would rather sit at home avoiding the opportunity for constructive conversation and parent-child bonding. After all, they want to make the best use of their massive televisions and channel subscriptions.
But let’s not go there. It’s a cheap shot. I would just like to think that the future may hold such opportunities. I cannot generalise. These were just things going through my mind today. I don’t want to be categorising types of people and judging them through the standards I have set for myself.
Once I took two lads up Snowdon. They were teenagers from the youth club where I worked. They were street kids. I wanted to give someone the chance I had when I was their age. It blew their mind. I have no idea if they ever went there again but I am sure they still remember it thirty-six years on.
Thank-you for reading.